Friday Fable. Three Latvian folksongs (dainas), ahead of July’s quinquennial Song and Dance Festival in Riga.

Posted by jlubans on April 19, 2013

Caption: All the world’s a stage; a Latvian landscape.

“Song, my song, I sing you
as I sing you,
It’s not me who discovered
Grandmother taught you to me
As she was sitting behind
the stove.”

Folk songs define the Baltic peoples better than land surveys, coastlines, rivers or lines on maps. Each of the three countries has a strong and unique song and dance culture dating back centuries and surviving numerous occupations. Once the people stop singing, like in the opera, it’s over.

20130419-daina outdoor.jpeg
Caption: Often outdoors at a dozen venues, the singing can last into the morning hours. At the finale, the chorales and the audience sing together all night.

“Scan songs to me, girl of
the woods,
You know many songs,
The nightingale taught them
to you,
Sitting in a bush.”

The songs spring from the farms, the forests and the waters.

20130419-daina kids.jpeg
Caption: All sizes take part in song and dance.

And, lest we forget the philosophy of leading from the middle, here's the third folksong:
“I’m puzzling over great thoughts,
Where do the masters get /their/
They neither plough, nor harrow,
Nor plant hops.”

I’ve heard the same sentiment expressed about inhabitants of executive suites. Ask yourself, if you are not doing “real work” what are you doing? Thinking “great thoughts”?

*Source: Latvju Dainas: Latvian Folksongs “favorites” in English, Russian, German & Latvian. Compiled by Krišjānis Barons (1835-1023) Riga, Latvia, Writers Union of Soviet Latvia. 1984.

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